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article imageOp-Ed: Greenwald defends himself against critics

By Ken Hanly     Dec 2, 2013 in World
Many commentators on the Snowden secret documents about NSA spying seem less concerned about the content of the documents and more about the personality and aims of the messengers who are revealing the documents to the public.
In a recent long article to be found here, Glenn Greenwald responds at length to criticisms made against himself and his colleague Laura Poitras. Greenwald spends considerable time addressing criticisms of Mark Ames in an article at Pando.com that can be found here.
As noted by Greenwald, the article accuses Greenwald and Laura Poitras of having "promptly sold [the Snowden] secrets to a billionaire" and of having made "a decision to privatize the NSA cache" because they joined billionaire, Pierre Omidyar's new media organization and supposedly vested it with a "monopoly" over the documents.
Pierre Omidyar is a billionaire and a founder of eBay. In 2013 he did announce he was financing a journalism venture as yet to be named that would include Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill among the others.
According to Greenwald, Ames has been attacking him for years particularly since Greenwald criticized a piece he had written for the Nation. The Nation retracted the piece and apologized.
Greenwald claims that he would not bother to answer the criticisms except that the arguments used by Ames have been picked up by numerous other sources and his arguments are being used to impugn the type of journalism he has been doing and also to even suggest that he should be prosecuted. He even mentions that the right in Canada is picking up the same refrain as in the appended video. Although this is more of a criticism of the CBC than Greenwald it carries on the theme of ignoring the content of the message and impugns the messenger, the CBC.
Greenwald points out numerous instances in which newspapers paid for articles based upon classified information. Not only has the New York Times paid for articles based on the Snowden documents but has also published numerous articles for pay that were based upon classified information deliberately leaked to them by government sources. Greenwald claims that almost every good investigative journalist will at some time receive and publish classified information. They usually will be paid for articles using this information. This is part of their earning a living. Greenwald's mode of reporting information is no different than that of numerous other journalists. Of Ames ciritique of this methodology Greenwald concludes: "If you are so infuriated by this NSA reporting that you short-sightedly embrace theories that suggest there's something untoward or criminal about this process, then you're essentially criminalizing all professional investigative journalism. Do you not see where this idiocy takes you?"
While much of what Greenwald has to say in response to Ames is quite cogent, the Ames article is well worth reading and does raise legitimate issues concerning Greenwald's joining a partnership with Omidyar. Wikileaks also has problems with eBay because it owns Paypal which stopped allowing donations to Wikileaks. As Ames puts it: "WikiLeaks’ concern about Omidyar can be traced back to PayPal’s decision in December 2010 to blockade users from sending money to WikiLeaks. PayPal (founded by Pando investor, Peter Thiel — more on that below) is owned by eBay, where Omidyar has served as the chairman of the board since 2002. Before the blockade, PayPal was the principal medium for WikiLeaks donations, according to the Washington Post. However, as Ames himself points out the publication he is associated with also has connections to an investor in PayPal. This article has just scratched the surface of the dispute between Greenwald and Ames. The articles by both authors are well worth reading in their entirety. Greenwald is surely correct though to claim that the concentration of journalists should be on the substance of the NSA articles not on the personality and ethics of those writing them.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Glenn greenwald, NSA spying, edward snowden, Nsa, Spy
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